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Cyprus

Cyprus Railways Museum

This museum in a shuttered train station remembers the island's forgotten rail system. 

Cyprus is known for many things: gorgeous beaches, meze, and the fact that it was the first place in the world to domesticate cats (more than 4,000 years before the Egyptians). Rail travel, on the other hand, is something rarely associated with the Mediterranean island.

Yet between 1905 and 1951, the Cyprus Government Railway (CGR) carried more than 7 million passengers and an excess of 3 million tons of goods across the country. Alongside passengers and goods, the CGR was an essential mail delivery tool and played a significant part in moving troops and ammunitions during World War II.

Despite its important role, the CGR couldn’t compete with the rising popularity of road transportation and, on December 31, 1951, Locomotive No. 1, which had hauled the island’s first train in 1905, departed the Nicosia station for the final time.

Trains stopped pulling into Evrychou 20 years earlier, when the last five miles of the CGR were abandoned due to lack of profits. The Evrychou railway station was transformed into a health center and later a forest services dormitory. It was also once burned and damaged by the EOKA Greek Cypriot nationalist guerrilla fighters because it was erected by the British.

Now the building has returned to its original glory to house the Cyprus Railways Museum, which opened in September of 2016. Proudly perched along the edge of the village, the sandstone station gleams expectantly, as if a train will arrive at any moment.

The museum is spread over two floors within the former station and offers a comprehensive overview of the history, operation, and legacy of the CGR. Using original documents, photographs, posters, and drawings, as well as scale models of the locomotives, rolling stock, and stations, the free attraction does its best to transport visitors back to the early 20th century, with period furniture helping conjure an image of the station’s initial days.

Outside the building, surrounded by a manicured garden, you can also see more than 300 feet of original track. Laid in a Y-shape, the rails were discovered within the station during renovations and have been carefully returned to their proper home on the ground. Beyond the platform, an original handcar and freight wagon are exhibited in a shed outside.

Despite government support, the museum has clearly been a passion project for a small group of islanders, including a group of British expats, whose names are engraved on a plaque in the entrance hall, and their personal collections are displayed throughout.

Know Before You Go

Summer hours (mid April to mid September) are Monday through Sunday, 9:30 to 5:00. Winter hours (mid September to mid April) are Monday through Sunday, 8:30 to 4:00.

There's free admission and parking.